Monday, August 02, 2010

Ocean Park


This morning we got out of bed extra early and went down to Causeway Bay to watch Inception: a morning spent in the company of fried shrimp, ice cold air conditioning and a film where the main sound effect is an incredibly loud bwwwwoooong. We missed the first minute or two, but the rest of the film was fully comprehensible; rumours of it being horribly complicated and difficult to understand seem to be exaggerations. Or I just overlooked all the fine detail. Bwwwwoooong!

The morning was just preparation for today's main event: visiting Ocean Park, Hong Kong's major theme park.

Ocean Park has several advantages over Disneyland:
  • It's located on Hong Kong, not an island a long long way away
  • It's much bigger, and as befits a Hong Kong theme park, it's on the side of a hill
  • There are fish involved.

Conversely, the park doesn't conform to the anal-retentive branding that Disney is good at; there are various areas in Ocean Park that are just tarmac paths from one place to another, rather than a Customer Experience, and because it's on a hill rather than pancake flat, there's walking up and down things to contend with. (There is a cable car, and also a rather rubbish "ride" from the bottom to the top of the hill, where you sit in an ice cold train carriage and cartoon giant squid attack you as you ascend, but there's also steps and ramps to walk up and down.)

Ocean Park is probably closest in aspect to Chessington's in England; there's a zoo (well, four pandas, both red and giant) and various aquariums (sturgeons! rays! groupers!), as well as the rides, which mainly consist of lifting people up in the air, spinning them around for a bit, and then putting them down again. I eventually acceded to my girlfriend's demand to go on a ride, which was 45 minutes of queuing, then five minutes bobbing up and down in a plastic log and then getting soaked with water.

It's not that I didn't like Ocean Park, but I think coming to the end of my four day break, I was rather worn out, and finding it hard to deal with the heat and the crowds. It did also have a fairly ludicrous acrobatic and diving show (huge men in tiny Speedos jumping from ever greater heights into a small tub of water, while a man in a blue leotard titted about on a trampoline and somebody else swung up and down on a trapeze), which seemed comfortingly end-of-the-pier-show, rather than just a corporate behemoth driving all before it into Disney's bank account.

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The aquariums are pretty good - it was interesting to see rays swimming on the surface - but since it appeared that the half of the PRC that hadn't gone to Disney on Friday were all at Ocean Park today - it felt much more crowded than the other aquariums I've visited in the last year. Then again, my favourite, the National in Kenting, was almost entirely devoid of people in December, so perhaps I'm just a misanthrope.

Who likes fish.

Is that really such a crime? *

* Well, yes, in some jurisdictions.


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